A Generous Community
I have been lucky to be a part of several generous communities throughout my life, and they each practiced generosity in their own way. I’m not sure if it’s because of or despite their varying motivations and expressions, but the modelling I experienced in each taught me something new about the importance of giving.
I grew up on a farm where my reality echoed the “rural spirit” so often romanticized in books and on TV. Now, this was 1980s Ontario not Little House on the Prairie, but a deep sense of close community permeated everyday life.
For example, friends organized a fundraiser to help a family after a barn fire. When a neighbour’s equipment broke down during harvest, local farmers sprang into action to lend theirs. Another time, we all took on extra chores at the dairy farm down the road, divvying up the milking and mucking out, so the family who owned it could travel to an out-of-town funeral.
Our neighbourhood was based on reciprocal help – I’ll help you because I’ll likely need your help at some point. Growing up in this kind of community taught me to risk more and give more boldly because we knew we had each other’s back.
Paying It Forward
When I settled into a job in the city, I expected to encounter a completely different world. My coworkers and I all came from different backgrounds, but I was amazed at how we pulled together in big and small ways.
It started with one person helping another, and then they helped someone else. We all paid these small favours forward, and it changed the atmosphere in the office. Soon, we hung around at the end of the day to help each other.
I remember one day we had a large mailing to complete, and instead of leaving the person responsible to do it alone, four of us stayed to help – and we finished the whole thing in about 20 minutes!
Being a part of this community made it clear that simple acts of kindness can change everything.
Love in Action
My church has always been important to me both spiritually and socially, and it has taught me many practical lessons in generosity.
Motivated by a faith rooted in Jesus’ ultimate act of selfless love, people in my church regularly step up to help those within and outside the congregation. They make meals, babysit children, and look after house or yard work. Some have slipped money or gift cards into the mailbox of those in need. The crafty make comforters for an international charity, and a wide variety of people volunteer at local charities.
Being a part of this community, I have learned to say, ‘I may not know you and we may never meet, but I will be generous with my love and care for you’. It has brought so much joy to my life.
Grow a Generous Community
In my role at Abundance Canada today, I have the privilege of working with people committed to giving their time and money to help others. They all come from different backgrounds, but almost everyone I connect with has shared a story of being influenced by generous community, whether it’s a little farming town, a downtown office building, a suburban church, or something in between.
This gives me great hope for the future because our world is facing an onslaught of challenges that we can’t solve alone. Generous communities are more important than ever. Luckily, they grow quickly – all it takes is someone willing to risk an initial act of kindness.
Reciprocal Help. Paying it Forward. Altruism. How will you make your community more generous today?
Contributed by Sherri Grosz
Gift Planning Consultant